Elizabeth_Poppie_trotting_posture

There are a lot of terms trainers use when talking about how a person sits on the saddle and how the rest of the body moves in relationship with the seat.

Whether it’s called an independent seat, fluidity, balanced seat, or any other term, it means how the rider moves with the horse and influences the movement of the horse. The goal is to be balanced in the saddle.

Proper position

The correct posture is to line up the ear, shoulder, hip, and back of the heel in a straight line. In this picture, the rider has the proper position in the saddle. (Note: the picture is on an angle, so it appears that the ear is in front of her shoulder, but in reality, it is not.)

The rider is also relaxed; her elbows are at her waist. With the exception of her looking downward, this rider has a good position.

Moving with the horse

When the rider is relaxed and in the proper position, she is moving with the horse. As the horse takes a step forward, her hips and pelvis moves with the horse without creating and resistance. If the rider is tense, the pelvis cannot move freely and the horse cannot move freely.

This causes a chain reaction or vicious circle between the horse and the rider. The rider asks the horse to move, but is stiff or tense in the saddle, the horse may move slowly or not at all, the rider gets frustrated by the horse’s lack of movement and gets even more tense as she tries to drive the horse forward with her seat. The horse feels the cue to move forward but the tension, now in the back, shoulders, and hands of the rider creates resistance and the horse doesn’t respond to the rider’s cues.

Sitting tall

This is one of the most difficult concepts in riding. Most of the time when we are told to sit or stand tall we throw our shoulders and hips back which causes our back or spine to arch forward. Now we are out of balance. Sitting tall means the spine is aligned as straight as possible. The rider’s back is neither arched forward nor hollowed, nor is it hunched over causing the shoulders to move in front of the hips.

One of the exercises that I give my students is to stand with their shoulders and hips against a wall, then move the small of their back toward the wall. To do this, they need to engage their core muscles. By strengthening their core, they will have proper posture in the saddle and ultimately be able to ride in harmony with their horse.

Linda Watson-Call is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.

Our second annual horse show was scheduled for Saturday, August 8, 2009, but apparently mother nature had different ideas on when we should hold our show.  As the riders and guest gathered, so did the thunderstorms with torrential downpours!  The horses started acting a little jittery, and since we don’t ride during thunderstorms, we decided to postpone the show until Sunday.

Sunday was a bright and hotter day.  We actually tied the record high of 92 degrees!  None-the-less, 20-some riders and their families reconvened at our facility.  The show started promptly at 11:00 am and continued, despited the heat, until 7:00 pm.  Not bad.  No heat exhaution, we kept the arena fans going and water flowing, everyone, including the horses survived.

The show was divided into three three sections – showmanship, equitations, games.

Only five riders participated in the showmanship class.  Each followed the pattern with the horse rather nicely.

The equitation classes consisted of two parts – an equitation pattern and a trail class.  In the equitation pattern class, the rider was judged on his or her form.  Heels down, eyes forward, ability to keep the horse on the rail, whether the reins were too loose or too tight, etc.  The trail classes judges the riders ability to maneuver the horse through obstacles.  This year our riders had to cross a bridge, walk over a star-burst AND keep the horse in the center of the poles, walk through a gate, through an L set up with poles, trot the long wall or at least walk it AND either do a two-point or stand in the stirrups when crossing the pole that was about half-way down the long wall, make a tight turn, grab a ring from a cone, then set the ring on a spindle.  We did practice in class before the show so no one got butterflies from not being sure of either pattern!

The games were pole-bending and pony express.  Our pole-bending was more like cone bending.  Yes, if the cone got knocked over, you would have time added to the score and there were only four cones instead of the traditional six.  Pony Express was a modified barrel racing game but instead of three barrels there were four barrels and a cone (start/end designation) and instead of a cloverleaf the rider made a star with all right turns in the pattern.

At the end of the show, ribbons were awarded to the show Grand Champion and five Reserve Grand Champions.  This year we had a tie for First Reserve Champion!

This our show winners were:

Alex, Eva, Linda, Callie, Riley (not pictured Bowen and Shelby)

Alex, Eva, Linda, Callie, Riley (not pictured Morgan, Bowen and Shelby)

Grand Champion – Shelby Krohn – riding Stella
First Reserve GC – Eva Aguilar – riding Lu-Rain
First Reserve GC – Morgan Nimmo – riding Slick Chick
Second Reserve GC – Alex Aguilar – riding Lu-Rain
Third Reserve GC – Callie Keller – riding Slick Chick/Leslie
Fourth Reserve GC – Bowen Waltz – riding Slick Chick
Fifth Reserve GC – Riley Redmond – riding Leslie

All of the riders did an excellent job of showing off their riding skills.  We hope they all come back next year for the third annual Giddy-Up Go Horsey Show!

Congratulations to all of our riders!


Dancing with the Stars is one of our favorite TV show. We love the sometimes unusual “stars” that are competing and this season is no different. There is a bull rider!
Knowing what little I know about bull riding, I do know they have excellent balance and muscles. I was a little surprised to see how stiff or was it uncomfortable this contestant was.
What does this have to do with horsebackriding?
As I listened to the comments, Len Goodman tells Ty Murray after his quick-step performance, your upper body should float and the movement comes from your legs/lower body.
Interesting…first thing I thought of was how we teach riders to have an independant seat! This should be easy for him!
I don’t know about you, but the rodeo star is getting my votes.